12 Tips for Selecting an SEO-Friendly CMS
Don’t let your CMS get in the way of your SEO strategy. When choosing a CMS, you need to consider, instead, how it’s going to help. It doesn’t matter how good your site is, a majority of your traffic will come from organic searches on search engines, so SEO has to be the first and last thing you think about when managing your online content. It should also be among the top considerations when selecting a CMS. Here are some of the most important things to look for:
By now you probably know that “acme-widget.html” is more useful than “index.html?id=246247896234”. Not only is it easier for the user to type, read and even share, but the search engine needs to know that it’s a unique page and that the actual file name itself is meaningful. Make sure your CMS can provide human readable URL’s.
How does your CMS help you when content is moved? If you move content within the CMS, or if you’re moving content into your CMS from somewhere else, you need to make sure that visitors to the old URL can safely arrive at the new URL. But simply redirecting or linking them to the new page is not enough. You need to have a 301 redirect, which keeps search engines informed of your content changes. The redirect takes the user to the right place, but also tells the search engine that this new location is the official url for this page from now on. It will then update its index and transfer the weight, or score, from the old URL to the new one. Don’t toss away everything you’ve worked for. Make sure your CMS can create 301 redirects.
Sometimes your SEO can simply be impacted by the manner in which your pages are, or are not linked. Breadcrumb navigation not only helps your users, but gives search engines some structure to use when analyzing your site. While the big site map might be too unwieldy for users to refer to, a page’s breadcrumb is a little slice of your site map that is always there and contextually relevant to that page. Make sure your CMS will automatically create your breadcrumbs and make them an important part of your basic layout.
Don’t forget the basics. Your page title should not exceed 70 characters and and it should contain keyword phrases. It’s tricky though, don’t just stuff it with keywords or you’ll be penalized. Best practices dictate that you include a primary and a secondary keyword phrase, and optionally a third. Keeping this within 70 characters is your challenge, but it should be easy to modify should you discover pages that need help. Make sure your CMS makes it easy to change page titles.
While the page description is not used by the search engines to score your pages, it is the text that is presented to the user on a search results page. When a user reads your description in a search engine, the good news is your page showed up in the search results. Now it’s up to your text to convert them to an actual visitor to your site. Use keywords, but be careful not to stuff them here too. Make sure your CMS makes it easy to view and manage page descriptions.
You should have heard by now that Google no longer puts weight, positive or negative, in the keywords you’ve defined in your meta tags. However, not all search engines have completely abandoned them, so you should still maintain your keywords. It can also be a way to help you manage your content too, so use the keyword field to help you get a handle on the organize thoughts, concepts and goals for a page. It should be easy to refer to your keywords while authoring a page. If you can see your keywords while you’re editing, you can make sure your content meets the overall goals of the page. Make sure your CMS makes it easy to manage, specify and control keywords and gives you a way to refer to them while editing a page.
Don’t forget your heading tags. Not only do these tags represent structure of your content and help you organize the thoughts on the page, search engines use them in the algorithm so make sure you use them properly. Every page should have one tag, and the heading used should contain important keyword phrases for the page. Again, make sure you don’t stuff it with keywords. Make sure your CMS allows you to apply the proper heading tags appropriately in your content.
Site maps are great if the site is new, because it helps search engines know where your content is. They aren’t required though. But a good site map will not only help search, it can also help your users find what they are looking for. Because your pages may change often, you’ll want a CMS that can dynamically update the site map without human intervention. Make sure your CMS can create a dynamic site map.
And the content itself is as important as anything else on your page. Make sure you have good representation of keywords and keyword phrases. Another way to make sure you hit your keyword goals is to use keyword synonyms, which not only help your score, but also make it more readable by not repeating the vocabulary over and over again to the user. Use a question and answer format whenever logical or useful. Also, never forget to put alt text on all your images. And last but not least, continue to regularly add new and fresh content. Your visitors, and the search engines, will reward you. Make sure your CMS can help you create fresh, relevant, keyword-focused and SEO friendly content.
Content with video in it are more likely to grab and keep the visitor’s attention. And seeing a thumbnail with a play button in the search results will make people want to click on it. Make sure your CMS lets you easily integrate videos seamlessly into your content.
Use a mashup of SEO tools. Don’t let your CMS be your only SEO tool. Use third party CMS tools to keep everything in check. There are a lot out there, so evaluate as many as you can and find the ones that help you meet your goals. Make sure your CMS plays well with third party tools.
Having the same content in multiple places reduces the scores. Use links to common content rather than having the same content live in two places at once. Make sure your CMS can easily provide dynamic and managed links to useful content and that you are not forced to duplicate content in more than one location on your site.
Also don’t forget
Your CMS strategy is just as important as the content itself. Choose a CMS that best helps you implement your strategy.